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artist in focus: stuart bass

Stuart Bass has lived in Sussex all his life and the South Downs and its towns and villages have been a great source of inspiration. He is a self-taught artist whose acrylic painting and drawing give particular focus to airbrush and resin techniques

How do you describe your work?

I would describe my work as whimsical, almost dreamlike. There is a fuzziness and warmth that an airbrush brings to my work which I find aesthetically pleasing. I try to put a romantic twist in each piece, something I hope the viewer will identify with, which might be parallel to an experience of their own

What would you say are your biggest influences?

Artistically my greatest influence is Mackenzie Thorpe. I became familiar with his work about 20 years ago, and found his themes resonated with me

When I left school, I studied Theatre Design at college which educated me about the process of narrative in a scene and the importance of conveying a story in a limited space. I feel I bring these lessons to my work. Theatre also taught me the importance of lighting and how this can affect a scene and the corresponding emotions this can produce

Who do you have in mind when you create your work?

I generally have a sense of the theme and time of day I want to capture (usually night time settings). I think about my characters and how I would place myself with them in the scene. I try to imagine the scene through their eyes – what can they see through their perspective? This really helps me develop a sense of light and shade, and where the light source and shadows are. Shadows help me ground a piece and give it depth and congruence. An airbrush allows for seamless transitions of colour, a property I really enjoy when creating a piece

I ultimately create my work for the individual or individuals present in it, as much as for my own expression of creativity

What makes your art different, special and irresistible?

An airbrush tends to be viewed as a tool to touch up and amend. They were incredibly popular before computer software overtook this task. Often airbrushes are used to create photo-realism in pieces, and I find it interesting that my work creates the opposite of this

I feel there is a naïve quality to my work, as if it has been created from a child’s perspective. I think people warm to this and can connect to this view. The use of acrylic ink also gives my work colour uniformity that I find appealing and hope others do too. The resin top that I use further deepens the colour in a more striking way than traditional varnish and gives a mirror-like finish which I imagine encases and protects the piece. I often feel like I have caught the scene in time and preserved it forever

What do people say when they see your portfolio? How does your art make them feel?

From feedback received, people often report a familiarity with the settings of my work, as if they feel they have been to the scenes I depict. I try to make my work speak clearly and softly through the narrative in my head, and I find it fascinating when the viewer has an entirely different narrative through the same scene. I find this profoundly rewarding, as for a moment I have contributed to transporting the viewer to another place that is personal to them, and a new story has begun

What do you think motivates people to buy your art? How does it appeal to the heart?

I feel and hope that people can place themselves in my work. My decision to not add detail to the faces of my characters is quite deliberate, with this in mind. I believe that the calmness and dream-like quality of my work is appealing, and offers the opportunity of transporting the viewer to another place. I think we all need somewhere to escape to, now and again

Who responds to your work and why do they connect with what you make?

Couples often view my work and give very favourable feedback, I believe due to the romanticism that I often employ. Older people often purchase my work, who experience memories from the scenes I depict. However, I feel my work has a universality for those people who want art to take them on a journey


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